Today at lunch, I was flipping through my favorite recipe app.  It’s from the New York Times and has a lot of recipes that are more unique than what you can typically find in cookbooks, online, or on other recipe apps.  As I was saving recipes that looked interesting to my favorites, I realized that I had saved far more recipes than I could ever cook.  Then I realized how rare it is that I actually cook a meal.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy cooking.  It’s one of my hobbies.  However, apart from cooking on the weekends and for special occasions at church, I don’t get much practice at it.

Early on, I developed a love of cooking.  I was never the sort of person who had a person in his life who loved to cook and passed it down to me.  That’s not to say that I was raised on take-out and frozen meals – quite the opposite.  My mother always cooked three meals a day.  However, it wasn’t something she enjoyed.  It was just something she had to do.  (Fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it anymore.  In fact, she is now pleased that her oven is often the storage cabinet for pots and pans rather than a functional appliance.)

Some of my earliest cooking memories involve waking up early to cook breakfast for the family on the weekends.  (My sister would usually join me.  I’m not sure if she does much cooking these days.  I’m almost certain she is in a cult and practices shunning.  But, I digress.)  Whenever I cooked these weekend breakfasts, I always wanted them to be a surprise.  In retrospect, I realize that there no way for an eight year old to do much of anything as a secret.  However, everyone always acted amazed to wake up and have breakfast.

The night before, I was always giddy with excitement.  So, when I thought everyone had gone to bed, I would set the table.  I’d always get out my mom’s china and set things up in the dining room.  I’d also get out my favorite teapot and get it ready to fill with coffee the next morning.  Those that know me now have no trouble in believing that even at such an early age I was concerned with getting the presentation as perfect as I could.

Invariably, one of my parents would get up just as I was in the middle of setting the table.  Of course, they would pretend not to have seen anything and just go back to bed.  Early the next morning, I’d get up and get to work.  From what I can remember, I would cook everything.  If we had bacon, sausage, and ham in the house, then we would have three meats.  Then, I’d cook enough eggs for at least a dozen people even though we were only a family of five.  I’d also make grits, which I didn’t like, and toast.  I’d usually round off the meal with pancakes or waffles.  Of course, coffee was the finishing touch.  I would brew a pot and put it in my favorite teapot.  (I still have the teapot put away at home.)

Cooking brings back such wonderful memories for me.  Even though I don’t do it as often as I’d like, it’s still something I absolutely love doing.  I’ve come to realize that one of the main reasons I enjoy it so much is because it’s my way of showing affection and gratitude to those around me.  I’m not much of a talker, so this is my way to give back.

I think I’m going to cook dinner tonight.  Nothing fancy.  Pork chops, spinach, and asparagus.  I may even cook a sweet potato for the dogs.  I’m sure they’ll be appreciative.  After all, the kitchen has a new backsplash, and the new stove has hardly been broken in.  It’s time to get cooking!

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